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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Facepalm (05/15/14)

TITLE: Hot Flash
By Milly Born


Something is terribly wrong. I sense confusion, embarrassment, a hint of panic. One second I try to figure out what the problem is, the next I know and brace myself for the evaporating experience of a hot flash. I stand at the kitchen counter, cutting tomatoes, and I feel my face turn equally red. Gradually, the burning sensation spreads over my whole body, and I break into a sweat. Thank God, it lasts only a minute.

Back to normal, I tuck my hair behind my ear and watch my 14-year-old daughter Aisha. She has just arrived home from school. Squatting, she caresses her small dog that jumps up to her, excited that his playmate has returned.

“Mummy, you know what Francesca did today?”

“Well, no, but I would like to.” I turn to the stove and slide the sliced tomatoes into the frying pan, where little pieces of garlic and peperoncino already are sautéing in olive oil from our own trees. We’re having guests for dinner tonight and I’m stressed, because I want to finish cooking before they arrive.

“She told the teacher she needed to wash her hands, but instead she went to the teachers’ lounge and used her cell phone to photograph the test of next week!”

“Wow… that’s serious, honey. That’s cheating. Does she realize that she’s risking suspension?”

Aisha pushes the dog away and turns on her tablet. “No, I don’t think so. Although she’ll do anything to be popular. She said she’d send it to each of us on Facebook.”

Thank you Lord, for a daughter who is always open with me so that I can guide her and show her Your way.

“Ah, here it is already. So what do I do, Mom?”

I ponder a few seconds before I answer, “Sweetheart, what do you think would be the best thing to do?”

“Throw it away?”

“It would, wouldn’t it?”

“So I can’t even have a look?”

“Do you want to participate in cheating?”

I hear a disappointed sigh. “Well, I guess not.”

I stir in the tomato sauce, add some white wine, and inhale the lovely aroma.

“Okay Mom, it’s gone.”

“Good girl. I’m really proud of you.” I put the spoon away and turn around to give her a big hug.

“Whatever grade you get on the test, it’ll be worth a thousand times more than the grades of the kids who cheated, honey.”

She looks up at me and gives me a big smile.

Grateful for my daughter’s honest heart, I let her go and continue cooking the pasta sauce, the lemon chicken, the vegetables, and the jam tart.

Here in Italy, eating together is an important event. It affirms friendships. In addition, we always pray for opportunities to share God’s love and grace while we have fellowship over a meal. However, this country is famous for its cuisine, and its people are reluctant to try unfamiliar food. I want our guests feel at ease; therefore, I prepare genuine Italian dishes with great care.

By the time our guests arrive, Aisha has finished her homework, my husband Jan has set the table, and I’ve just put the tart in the oven. We welcome the lovely family we recently met and invite them to sit down.

After some small talk, Jan says a short prayer that as usual, results in a brief, awkward silence. Then we dive into the pasta all’arrabbiata.

Suddenly, I hear a little squeak. Aisha stares at her food, frowning in disgust. “Yuck! There’s a hair in my pasta!”

Cringing with embarrassment, I suppress the urge to cover my face. Instead, I rack my brain for some reassuring reply, but before I can open my mouth, she adds, “Is it yours or the dog’s?”

A violent hot flash engulfs me. While my husband tries to distract our guests, I manage to teach my daughter what to do whenever you spot a foreign object in your food: push it to the edge of your plate--silently.

Openness. Honesty. Yes, I thank God for Aisha’s praiseworthy qualities. But Lord, I really could use your help with the fine-tuning.

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This article has been read 268 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 05/22/14
Oh, I really enjoyed this clever and well written story. Great message too!

God bless~
Lisa Johnson05/23/14
Very well written, I could see the scene as if I was there. I could almost smell dinner cooking. Yes, our kids and grandkids do need fine tuning from time to time, and can be a definite source of embarrassment (usually at the worst possible time).
Noel Mitaxa 05/24/14
Very descriptive story that invites us into your setting, and leads up to the kind of credible close that strikes a chord with all of us. Well done.
Joe Moreland05/24/14
You set the scene well, establish your characters solidly and show better than you tell. All very good qualities.

I particularly like how you tied it all together with the positive and slightly embarrassing side effects of having a child who always speaks their mind (I've got a few of those).

You did a great job with this entry, it kept me interested to the end.

Thanks for sharing.
Trudy Newell 05/24/14
You did a great job on this. I could relate to kids "telling all".

A delightful entry.

God bless - Trudy
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/25/14
I really enjoyed this story, beginning to the end, where
you tied a bow of humor on it.
Your message on teaching your children honesty was excellently done.
Judith Gayle Smith05/26/14
It is a shame when a writer grabs my heart and humbles me. You won't be a "beginner" long. Excellent.
Robert Douglas Brown05/26/14
Nice article. I enjoyed reading it.
Graham Insley05/27/14
Quite brilliant development of your MC. The conversation came across very believable and the reaction of the daughter at the dinner table brought back some memories.

Sheldon Bass 05/28/14
Splendiferous! For some odd reason I'm really hungry now :-)
You did an excellent job of pulling me into the story. And you chose something I think every parent has experienced: the honesty of a child to the point of embarrassment at times. This should do really well. I look forward to your next entry too.
C D Swanson 05/29/14
God bless~
Sheldon Bass 05/29/14
I had a feeling... Congratulations on a great piece and a fine 1st.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/29/14
Congratulations on ranking 1st in your level and 20 overall! The highest rankings can be found on the message boards.
Trudy Newell 05/30/14
Hi Milly -

I was about to send you a critique, but I don't think it's necessary. Congratulations on your well deserved win.

Seriously, this was so well written. I'll look forward to reading your other entries.

God bless
Bea Edwards 06/07/14
A very nicely written story. I especially liked your term 'evaporating experience' which sums up the dreaded meltdown perfectly.

Congratulations on your first place level win.